- The hotel is about a 5 minute drive from the airport. It was actually kinda funny because we were so concerned we wouldn't be able to find it.
- We ended up renting a car (a trusty litle Dodge Attitude) and rocked to the the station "Digital, Todo Exitos!".
- I digress....the drive was quick and along the way passed the Marriot, Melia and the Mayan Palace hotels among others on the Marina. This was a good thing because a few friends have points at the Marriot and would still be nearby.
- Patio: When we saw the patio during the day we were wondering if we would have room for our 120-150 guests. The fountain is really pretty, but not overbearing. A good center piece. It was mentioned that people float candles in it and I definitely think that that would make it especially nice. We visited again after they had setup for the wedding. The wedding only had about 8 tables of 8, and didn't really fill up the space. I can definitely see how you would want only have larger weddings here. The band was setup along the large pink wall (I was imagining how vibrant pictures would be with the wall as the backdrop). We never went back out at night time, though, to see the fountain in full effect.
- Pergolas: The pergola setup was cool, but we felt that the guests would defniitely be too separated between each one. There are some "double-wide" pergolas where you could have two tables, and the square ones housed one table. It was really elegant, though, just wasn't as conducive to mingling. Also our Wedding Coordinator indicated that many times people are lounging on their beach chairs in front of the pergolas (or in the un-used pergolas themselves) and do not have to move unless they want to you. You're going to have some amount of gawkers, but I felt that at the pergolas, people were just standing there staring. Over by the patio, it seemed less likely that people would go out of their way to stand on the (setup patio) to ogle at your wedding!
- The hotel itself is beautiful. Sorry I didn't take pictures at night, but it was so pretty lit up at night time. I love the bright pinks and yellows...definitely festive.
- The rooms...we ened up (after a mix-up on our end) with a room with 2 double beds and a partial ocean view. We didn't get a chance to look at other rooms, but those the 6th floor and above can have full ocean views (else face the Marina).
- I didn't find the dehumidifier too annoying (except the one night when I had too many Mexican coffees and couldn't fall asleep). If you don't mind white noise, it shouldn't bother you. I would definitely leave it on because I could see the humidity cause mustiness if we turned it off. A couple of the pillows were musty, but since we had two beds, there were 8 pillow to choose from. The d©cor was also very pleasant. Bathrooms were nice (and clean). Maid service was very good, as well. We also enjoyed some cigars and Pacificos on our little patio which overlooked the pools.
- Nikki Beach: We didn't go in the club, but it was playing "bumping" music throughout the day. I think the 20 to 30-somethings were all there during the day, lounging on the mattresses. It's open until at least 3am. Will have to inquire about the cover chargers, but it looked like it was about $20, with consumption tickets. Also, in the room is a Nikki Beach dance music CD that comes with a couple passess. (This is where we're planning to do "late night" for the party).
- Notes: the party must end at midnight --- but note that Nikki Beach is open late
- Happy Hour: At Las Cascadas, the lobby bar, happy hour is 4:30 to 5:30. Two for one for domestic drinks (Mexican beer, tequila, margaritas, etc.)
- Pools: I found the pools to be really clean and pleasant. Swim up bars a must! Not sure when happy hour at the pool is, but I'm sure they have one. Wasn't too much trouble for the 2 of use to stake out seats, but sometimes the palm/coconut trees blocked the shade. Might be harder if a larger group was trying to save sevearl seats. One note is that the pool denizens tended to be much older or much younger. Like I said the 20-30-somethings were at Nikki Beach (or on the beach itself).
- Timeshare attackers: We actually were not even approached once. I was concerned because of previous reviews I have read, but we didn't even see them. I did notice that there was an empty desk (near the stores) and finally on Sunday it was manned.
- check-in/check-out was very pleasant. We were especially impressed when the bellhop remembered my FI's last name throughout our stay (which is a feat in itself because it is long and Italian.) Overall the staff was extrememly helpful and nice.
- It's $7 for 24-hour access to the gym. My FI's complaint is that there are no free weights. Just "nautilus" type stuff, some exercise machines (elliptical, treadmill, stairmaster, bikes). There is a studio for classes (Pilates, Yoga, Spinning), but those are $14/class. Not sure if that is on top of the $7 for the access. Did not look at the Spa but will definitely be checking that out next time.
As we think of more, I'll add to this list, but hopefully this review is helpful. Let me know if you have any questions. I'll review Vallarta restaurants next!